ATEC Course Looks at Green Trends in E-Business

Graduate student Michael Lynch investigated the environmental effects of the bottled water business. His project featured an iPhone application that would track where water bottles could be refilled to cut down on plastic waste.

What if many of the touch points along a product’s journey from concept to creation were friendlier to the environment? What if the marketing mechanisms designed to encourage consumption of products were more environmentally conscious?

A graduate course in the School of Arts and Humanities is examining the underlying business issues of an increasingly networked economy, with key explorations delving into design of e-marketing programs, next-generation virtual work interfaces and potential impact of green virtual technologies.

Dr. Marjorie Zielke, assistant professor of arts and technology (ATEC), teaches the E-business Environment Design course. With various guest speakers and readings, such as Jeff Jarvis’ book What Would Google Do?, the class tackled a wide range of topics and discussions.

Students discovered how digital networked technology is restructuring society and changing business and the overall economy. They also explored the impact of e-business design on the environment and analyzed ongoing trends in e-business environment designs.

“The students tackled real business issues in terms of e-marketing, virtual work design and the environment, and they were expected to be able to apply ATEC design ideas in a business context,” said Zielke.

Students implemented class concepts by creating a final project. Michael Lynch, a graduate student in the final year of his MFA in arts and technology degree, investigated the environmental effects of the bottled water business during Zielke’s course. His project featured an iPhone application to track where water bottles could be refilled to cut down on plastic waste.

“We were responsible for finding information for our own individual projects of interest,” said Lynch. “I learned a lot about the e-business environment, including green topics that I had never really considered before, like the recycling and bottled-water industries.”

According to market researcher Mintel, about 12 percent of the U.S. population can be identified as “True Greens,” consumers who seek out and regularly buy so-called green products. Another 68 percent can be classified as “Light Greens,” consumers who sometimes purchase green goods and services.

“The course offered a new perspective on our present business environment, especially at a time when everything we discussed in class was featured in the media,” said Lynch.

Zielke will offer a class on design aspects of e-marketing and e-advertising in Spring 2010.